Wednesday, March 4, 2015

First Saguaro blossoms

Photos by Fred Heath 2/18/2014

Fred writes:

Although I know that a blooming Saguaro can be found in every month of the year, it always blows my mind when we find one in the middle of the "winter." Mary found one Wednesday (2/18/2015) with a single flower and a few buds on our way up to the water tank hill on the south of side of the of the main tram road at the top of Dead Man’s Hill. We were going up there to search for hill-topping butterflies, especially the Desert Orangetip. Just after the first sighting of the flowering Saguaro, Mary noticed a second one (these photos). It had many flower buds on the main stem with more buds and two flowers on the arm.
Now where are the White-winged Doves and Lesser Long-nosed Bats when you need them? To the local insects (including butterflies) that depend on the local plants (such as Orangetips on mustards), conditions that cause the plants to germinate and flower - such as warm and/or wet winters - are also cues to emerge from their pupas. However, for many migrating birds, the main cue to head north is amount of daily sunlight on their wintering grounds. They have no idea that the ideal conditions in their breeding areas are getting earlier and earlier. Thus, as the warming trend due to climate change is happening quickly, migrating birds are not able to evolve fast enough to keep up, and they are arriving at the breeding grounds past the ideal times for raising young. One more depressing result of our increasing use of carbon-based fuels.

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